Saturday, January 21, 2012

Apple Crisp on a Cold Winter Day

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! It's cold here in WISCONSIN! What better way to warm up the house/kitchen and tummies than with Apple Crisp! MMMMMMMM I am truly not a baker but there are some recipes that I can make and that turn out. . .and this is one of them! It's a tried and true recipe that I tweaked from my Better Homes "New Cookbook"! :) I'm not a fan of apples with cinnamon - yes, I know, I know, I'm weird one - so this is sans cinnamon. Sorry. . .but I don't think it is needed!
Apple Crisp Sans Cinnamon
10-11 medium apples, peeled/cored/cubed (I used a combination of Granny Smiths and a sweeter red/green apple)
4-8 T. sugar, depending on how sweet you would like it (I tend to under-sweeten, as the crisp topping is sweeter)
1 c. regular rolled oats
1 c. packed brown sugar (can use a little less)
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. butter (I use European style, salted, as the salt cuts the tartness of the apples a bit)
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

1. Combine apples and sugar in a bowl. Pour into a slightly greased/sprayed 9x13 glass baking dish.
2. For the crisp topping, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, nuts in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles chunky crumbs (I tend to make mine a bit chunkier, not fine, as I like the chunky, rustic texture!).
3. Sprinkle crisp topping over sugared apples.
4. Bake in 375 degree over for 35 or so minutes, until bubbly. Fruit should be tender and topping should be crispy/crunchy!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

New version of a Spinach Salad: Sweet, Sour, Salty!

MMMMMMMMMMMMMM! I have so been enjoying our winter CSA spinach from Snug Haven Farm (near Belleville, WI). . .I'm coming up with different versions of the Spinach Salad!

3/4 of a red onion, sliced and quickly sauteed (a few minutes, just to get soft and a bit translucent)
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon, cooked, drained, and diced
Raw walnuts, chopped
Organic red delicious apple, cored and diced
6 cups organic spinach (chopped)
Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.
Top with homemade sweet sour dressing (equal parts apple cider vinegar and vegetable oil-approx 1/3-1/2 c. each, 1 T. honey, 1 t. sugar, dried parsley flakes, salt and pepper to taste - mix well)!

Mumbo . . .Gumbo! :)

Seems like fitting weather for gumbo now in Wisconsin! We've technically had our first "real" snowfall now after having such a mild start to our winter. Not that I was complaining!

I discovered this recipe in a magazine. . . tweaking it to my tastes. . .While it is a "lighter" version of a New Orleans favorite, it does not lack for flavor! Paired with a few splashes of Tabasco (or alot if you like it really spicy!), a Red Stripe brew, and some French bread for "sopping", it makes for a mighty fine "warm me up" meal! :)
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup Wondra flour (good for making sauces thicker - I prefer this to regular all purpose flour)
1-2 T. (or more!) Creole/Cajun seasoning
1 -2 t. garlic powder
5 T. canola oil
2-4 T. butter, salted
3 Andouille sausage links, cubed
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 medium to large onion, diced
6 cups homemade chicken broth (I save the broth when I boil chicken!)
1 - 1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes (I used tomatoes from our garden that we had frozen - unthaw a bit, then chop - somewhat easier to chop when they are still slightly frozen)
2 1/2 c. sliced frozen okra (can also use fresh, of course)
4 cups cooked rice
1/2 c. parsley for garnish
Tabasco splashes for each bowl (optional!)
1. Sprinkle cubed chicken breasts with salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large baggie, combine 1/4 c. Wondra flour, Creole/Cajun seasoning, and garlic powder. In a large frying pan or deep pot (whichever you prefer - you use the same pot to simmer your gumbo) over medium-high heat, heat 2 T. of oil. Add chicken to baggie and shake to coat. Transfer chicken to pan and cook until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken to plate. Add sausage to pot. Cook about 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Add peppers and onion to pot and cook until onions are translucent and softened (5+ minutes). Transfer this sausage-veggie mixture to a bowl and set aside.
3. Wipe pan clean and set on medium-low heat. Add remaining flour and oil (I also add a few T. of butter, as I like the richness in a roux) and stir constantly until a deep brown roux forms - approx. 10 minutes. Add sausage-veggie mixture and stir to combine. Stir in chicken broth, increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and okra. Simmer until okra is tender - 10-15 minutes (longer if you use fresh okra). Then add cooked rice, stir to combine. (Or you can serve OVER the rice if you prefer).
5. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of parsley. Serve with sliced French bread for "sopping"! :) A few dashes of Tabasco adds a nice touch of spice/heat to your bowl, too!